Freedom to Choose (FREE)

Freedom to Choose (FREE)

The idea that people should be free to choose and should be held accountable for the choices they make is fundamental in the modern world. In fact, the notion of individual freedom and personal responsibility is pervasive in almost all aspects of society, from political discourse to everyday life. The project "Freedom to Choose/FREE" creates a unique platform for interdisciplinary experimental research on perceptions of free choice, and how the consideration of freedom of choice influences behavior and political attitudes.

PROJECT MANAGER: Alexander W. Cappelen and hallgeir sjåstad 


Of particular importance is that FREE will create scientific synergies between economics and psychology, both in terms of research methods and theoretical perspective. By combining the complementary strengths of the two disciplines, the overall aim of FREE is to provide new insight into how most people think about the free election, which in the next step can shed light on attitudes towards redistribution policy and government regulation.

Project details:

The FREE project consists of three work packages. The first work package, WP1: Perception of Free Choice, will study what people in the general population consider free choice and when they hold others personally responsible for their choices. The second work package, WP2: Freedom versus Justice, will study how considerations of freedom and personal responsibility influence the willingness to accept inequality and attitudes to redistributive policies. This research will provide a comprehensive analysis of how the ideal that people should be free to pursue their own idea of the good life, such as helping loved ones more than strangers, shapes distribution behavior and personal views on distribution policy. The third work package, WP3: Paternalism and Economic Choice, will examine how considerations of freedom of choice are weighed against other considerations of individual welfare, and how this trade-off affects support for paternalistic interventions in society.

The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway and the program for "Large Scale, Interdisciplinary Research Projects". The program is intended to advance the research front by providing support for researchers from different subject areas to work together to generate new knowledge that would not be possible to obtain without interdisciplinary cooperation.

The core research team is composed of three economists: Alexander Cappelen (NHH), Bertil Tungodden (NHH), and Björn Bartling (University of Zurich), and three psychologists: Hallgeir Sjåstad (NHH), Molly Crockett (Yale University), and Jay Van Bavel (New York University).

Core research team

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